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O2 sponsors white elephant

Cheerio 'Millennium Dome', hello 'The O2'

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O2 has confirmed it is to sponsor London's most prominent white elephant by renaming The Millennium Dome "The O2".

The mobilephoneco - which is axing some 500 jobs including some 200 IT staff as part of a major restructuring - is spending £6m a year for its tie-up with London's big tent.

Teaming up with giant entertainment group Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), O2 intends to help rejuvenate The Dome and surrounding area. The Dome - sorry, "The O2" is due to be re-open in 2007 providing a venue for music, shows and sports events.

As part of the deal, O2 will be able to provide this content to its punters - something execs believe will be important as they try to hang on to their existing users.

A spokesman for O2 shrugged off claims that it was sponsoring a monument of ridicule. "This is a bold move," he said, "and is in keeping with our emphasis to back music and entertainment."

The venue is also expected to sport a massive "O2" logo on its dome-shaped roof. ®

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